Friday 27th October 2023.
October 26, 2023
The rain was not an impediment for different groups and citizens to continue this Thursday with the protests against the mining contract. From organized groups that gathered in Plaza Porras , to citizens who have spontaneously joined the protests, starting from the Cinta Costera , they continue to raise their voices against mining.
At a time when trumpets were being sung, drums, pintos and pailas were being played, in a confusing incident, police officers launched tear gas bombs in the Plaza de la Independencia in the Cathedral was practically cleared.
A group of protesters who were left behind from the protest were dispersed with tear gas bombs launched by crowd control agents, in the vicinity of the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party.
The group that started the protest at Cinta Costra was so large that not all of them were able to reach the Cathedral. After the incident, this group of citizens decided to regroup in the Cinta Costera to continue protesting.
The protests to reject the approval of the mining contract between the State and Minera Panamá, for the exploitation of copper in Donoso, Colón, had a day like no other: two demonstrations that filled the premises of the Presidency of the Republic.
From 3:00 pm the protesters gathered in the vicinity of Plaza Porras and after 4:00 pm they began their journey through the main streets of Calidonia, passing through the vicinity of the National Assembly and then moving to the Cathedral sector. , in the vicinity of the Presidency of the Republic.
Teacher unions, health personnel, university students, construction workers, indigenous groups and citizens mobilized, blowing whistles, horns and chanting slogans against mining.
The unions demand that the government repeal Law 406 on the new contract with Minera Panamá.
On an improvised platform, based on a rolling team, the leaders of the different unions addressed the protesters to reiterate the points of the contract that are not beneficial for the country.
On the part of the Executive, no spokesperson came out to listen to the protesters’ demands.
Around 6:00 pm the unions decided to end the demonstration in the Cathedral.
On the other hand, for the third consecutive day citizens gathered in the Cinta Costera to protest against the mining contract. These people ask the government to put an end to mining and, just like in the previous days, they marched.
The protesters who gathered in the Cinta Costera decided at around 5:50 pm to move towards the Presidency to join the rest of the groups protesting against mining.
At 6:30 pm the first group of protesters arrived near the Presidency chanting slogans against the miners and the government.
Likewise, organized groups and citizens from the province of Panama Oeste marched from this region and crossed the Bridge of the Americas to join the other demonstrations that were registered in the city.
As the march moved along Avenida de los Mártíres, residents of the sector began to blow their whistles and applaud the protesters.
The Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) admitted one of the five unconstitutionality lawsuits filed so far against Law 406 of 2023 , which adopts the contract between the Panamanian State and the company Minera Panamá.
This is the lawsuit presented by lawyer Juan Ramón Sevillano last Monday, which was admitted by Judge María Eugenia López Arias , after verifying that it complies with all the legal formalities required by the Judicial Code.
Now it will be transferred to the Attorney General of the Administration, Rigoberto González , to issue his opinion. González has a period of up to 10 business days to send his opinion to the Court. Next, an edict will be published so that, within three days (also business days), the plaintiff and “all persons interested in the case” can present their arguments in writing, through a lawyer, the CSJ explained in a statement. statement issued this Thursday.
Once this phase is completed, Judge López, as rapporteur, will examine all the documents that have been received, prepare a draft ruling and share it with the rest of the judges that make up the plenary session of the CSJ.
This Thursday, a new lawsuit was filed against Law 406 of 2023, one prepared by around twenty lawyers led by Ariel Corbetti, Harry Díaz, Gilberto Boutin and Francisco Bustamante, among others.
The group alleges that the new rule violates several articles of the Constitution , by granting the mining company powers to dispose of land, water and wildlife.
PRD deputy Crispiano Adames asked President Laurentino Cortizo and the National Executive Committee (CEN) of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , the body to which he belongs, to comment on the situation in the country.
“We have to demand that the national government carry out an act of conciliation now,” said Adames, first vice president of the CEN of the PRD and who abstained from the vote on Law 406. He questioned whether the government now depends on the Supreme Court of Justice. body that took 20 years to rule on the unconstitutionality of the contract with Minera Panamá and four more years to clarify the ruling.
Five claims of unconstitutionality against Law 406 of 2023, which adopts the contract between the State and Minera Panamá, rest in the Court. The one presented by lawyer Juan Ramón Sevillano was admitted.
Adames, who after the PRD primaries became a harsh critic of Cortizo’s management, stated that the President of the Republic “has the strength and fortitude” to stop what is happening, and thus avoid worse consequences.
He assured that the people are not only against the political class, but also demand employment and basic solutions, and that is why they are on the streets today. “This must be stopped. “I want to put my position beyond the PRD, as I made it known to the party president (Benicio Robinson) last night,” he said.
In the PRD, Adames was one of the opponents of Vice President José Gabriel Carrizo, in the race for the party’s presidential candidacy.
The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) requested the Government to approve an immediate moratorium on new mining concessions and to review the Mining Code, as an emergency measure to respond to the population’s outcry against mining and the approved contract.
“Demand the National Government to decree as soon as possible a moratorium on the granting of mining concessions for both exploitation and exploration, and to establish as soon as possible a date for the review and strengthening of the Mineral Resources Code, which will allow defining the future of the country in this matter,” expressed the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Adolfo Fábrega, accompanied by the members of the board of directors of the business union.
Fábrega called on the Supreme Court of Justice to act expeditiously and respond quickly to the resources that have been requested.
“ We call on the Supreme Court of Justice to rule in law and in an expeditious time against the lawsuits presented. What now corresponds is the next action of the judicial body,” he insisted.
The National Council of Private Enterprise, CoNEP, also insisted that a new Mining Code be drawn up and proposed that a national debate be held.
“A rational debate must be opened about the future of mining in the country. Justice must be expeditious. This is essential so that it is understood that legal certainty is respected,” the business union said in a statement.
At the same time, they joined the Cciap in rejecting the closure of streets as a method of protest.
“These practices affect the daily lives of Panamanians, have consequences on issues as basic as access to health, among others, and produce irreversible damage to micro, small and medium-sized businesses, also affecting third parties who, in a democracy, have the right to exercise free transit, which must be guaranteed by the authorities.”
Caridad Hurtado (known as Caridad Kanelón), charged with the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering as a result of the PTY operation , will remain in prison for the moment. A Guarantee Court denied her the change of precautionary measure from preventive detention to house arrest, as her defense had requested.
During a hearing held this Thursday, October 26, at the facilities of the Accusatory Criminal System of the First Judicial District, the guarantee judge Fanny Merel, denied the replacement of the precautionary measure considering that the circumstances that link her to the crime have not changed. of money laundering. She also said this is a “serious criminal case.”
Prosecutor Marlenis Olivares opposed the change of precautionary measure because she considered that there was a risk of flight.
Hurtado was arrested in April 2023, in the so-called PTY operation, in which a group of people were detained for alleged money laundering. The prosecution attributes him to having used the Mujeres Bellas aesthetics, in which beauty packages were offered to women and plastic surgeries in Colombia, as a front for money laundering.
In this case, charges were brought against Ezequel Alarcón (alias Zequi), Aylin Ortega, Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) activist Rubianeska Baker, as well as Asher Melamed, Yaribet Medrano and Giancarlo Medrano.
The die is cast. At the end of this week it will be known whether or not Panama finally leaves the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), once the plenary meeting of the organization ends on October 27, which is currently taking place. in Paris France.
There is a large delegation from the Panamanian government, which has traveled since last week to hold advance meetings and take the temperature of the meeting.
The Minister of Economy and Finance, Héctor Alexander, met with the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mathias Cormann, with whom he spoke about the economic development and growth of Panama, financial and fiscal transparency international cooperation, the environment, the “green and fair” transition and OECD cooperation with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the entity.
The government is optimistic. The MEF reiterated that it has developed “a transversal strategy to eliminate discriminatory lists at the international level, some related to the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism, and others with respect to international tax cooperation.”